Binge. Purge.

Sunday, July 6th, 2008, 6:09 am

Today was (is) one of those days where you somehow end up on your feet, let out a long breath as you make sure you aren’t still in freefall, and say, "Whew". Today started off bad, got worse, threated to become a real disaster but, in the end, was no big deal. Let me explain.

I’ve mentioned several times that one of my goals during the WSOP was to spend more time with my friends. So far I’ve done an OK job of doing just that. Thing is, hanging with these insaniacs is EXPENSIVE. I haven’t yet written about my adventure with Pauly and BadBlood the other day (that post needs serious editing/censoring) and last night I had the pleasure of heading to Gold Coast with Otis and Stephen and Howard from the PokerStars blog. Play Pai Gow with the Jedi master? Hang out with my pokersiteblogging competition? Have a few greyhounds? Man, that was right at the top of the list!

At 5AM, as we staggered from the tables wondering what hit us, the glamor was gone. It was the Pai Gow version of Little Big Horn. Here’s the session in a nutshell–on my very last hand I had A-10 on the top and a pair of eights on the bottom. Dealer turned over A-J on the top and a pair of nines on the bottom. Every wonder how places like Bellagio and the Wynn and, yes, Gold Coast get built? That’s frickin’ how.

I took a cab home trying to calculate how much I was stuck so far for the trip and managed to keep from bursting into tears. Matt was taking his girlfriend to the airport at 5:30 and they noticed that I, like, hadn’t been home yet. I reached the condo while they were out and tried to fall asleep with the sun pressing against the blinds. I had a nightmare (and I mean a sweating, shrieking terrordream) about being in a Vegas buffet line as designed by David Lynch. I woke, with a jolt, to see that I’d slept through my alarm. With four ghastly hours of sleep behind me I had to rush about to…go to the Rio! Yay!

I had every intention of staying late today to sweat Iggy as he battled for poker immortality. Those plans started to die as I battled my way through the braying horde clogging the Rio’s hallways. I fought, at times with tooth and claw, through the mob until I reached the Amazon Room. Which is when I learned I was working in Brasilia. Fangs bared I headed back and an expert in body language might’ve guessed from my gait, body lean and facial expression that people had Better Get Out of My Goddam Way.

I hadn’t eaten since, oh, 7pm the previous day, so during a break I went out and got a chicken salad wrap, which is what I’d eaten for my last meal as well. They’re fine, for the most part. This one…this one had a little surprise in store. I ate quickly, washed it down with an energy drink, and the time bomb started ticking.

Iggy was playing in Brasilia so I sweated him as best I could (while trying to avoid tilting him with my camera) and looked his way about every 17 seconds to make sure he didn’t bust. LJ and Lucko were not so fortunate and were eliminated before the dinner break. Which came rather quickly, actually. Working a seven-hour day is really almost like a day off. There were a few amusing moments–like when the Milwaukee’s Best Girls handed out decks of cards to us and tried to guess where Slippers is from. "East LA?" one said, in what I hope to God was a joke. "Scotland? Dublin?" the other two said. When they finally guessed Australia the most statuesque of the trio said, "Are you the Thunder from Down Under?"

It was almost the first time I’ve ever seen an Aussie blush, though I think Slippers might’ve gotten red from laughing. "I’m not THE Thunder from Down Under, but I bring the Thunder from Down Under," he said, and the girls all laughed. As they walked away Slippers looked at the cards and said, "Why were they handing out cards?"

"Because they’re gonna come back to play a little sit-n-go," I said, "ON MY LAP!!". But they didn’t, and we didn’t. Story of my life.

The dinner break meant 2,000 people were trying to walk down the hallway from the Amazon Room to the exits and up to the Rio itself. So some genius decided that now would be a good time to have a booth set up where people could get autographs from Daniel Negreanu. It caused a huge bottleneck that put me right back on tilt. "If there was a competent fire marshall in Nevada he could fine these bastards into Chapter 7," I snarled as I shouldered and elbowed anyone I could find who was smaller than me. When I made it outside it was all I could do to run away from the place. Well, the 50 pounds of gear hanging from my shoulder held me back as well. I’d love to see an X-ray of my spine, it probably looks like a question mark these days.

Too many people. Too many. So far I’ve been able to fade the crowds with no problem but the opening days of the Main Event are a different beast. You get the poseurs, the naifs, the wannabees, the screaming bastards. I can’t say that I feel much fear around them, but the loathing is at times just below the surface and that’s when the homesickness really gets to me. Home. Pittsburgh. My flat. So close, and yet to get there I have to bear down and endure these people.

During Day 1a I ran out to the restroom and it was packed. A stall opened and a 60ish guy walked out and I walked in. Walked into a stifling box suffused with the worst body odor you can imagine. The stench would’ve dropped a yak in it’s tracks. I wanted to press a hankerchief to my nose and run the guy down and say, "Sir? Sir? You need to go see a doctor RIGHT NOW. Something’s seriously wrong with you. Human beings shouldn’t produce smells like that. Well, not live ones".

Anyway. Matt and I left and we were both hungry and we decided to try the buffet at Silverton. He hadn’t eaten, I’d eaten 7 hours earlier, we wanted to try it….sure. And it was good, very good. Had a nice salad, some steak, some potstickers, and three big glasses of pop. That should’ve been a warning–I was super thirsty, never a good sign in Vegas.

I didn’t feel well when we left. Not from what I’d just eaten–something in my not-so-distant past wasn’t agreeing with me. At all. Matt wanted to play one of the absurd table games he so enjoys and I said fine, I’d play some video poker and see if The Most Beautiful Woman in the History of the World was working. Maybe even get a picture of her as F-Train so commanded. Perhaps even dare to say hello?

Turns out she WAS working, and looking even more Olympian that usual. I walked past her and she smiled at me. I think this bears repeating–SHE SMILED AT ME! ME! But I wasn’t able to fully appreciate this divine gift. For one, I’d left my wallet in the car and couldn’t sit down for some soothing video poker while I admired her. For another…I felt awful. Worse than awful, actually. I lassoed Matt from the tables and we headed home.

For most of my time in Vegas I’ve either been really hungry because I haven’t eaten for 15 hours or stuffed to the gills because we went somewhere and chowed down. I felt horrible and guessed that I was in the early stages of food poisoning. Get home, deal with whatever unpleasantness was to come, shove as much water into myself and pray. I have to work all day tomorrow, and spending 13 hours in the Rio trying not to barf into the trash cans didn’t appeal to me. Oh, another reason why the WSOP crowds delight me so–quite a few folks out there think it’s appropriate for a gentleman to walk over to a garbage can, hawk loudly, and spit into it. If you refer to your Emily Post you’ll learn THAT’S FRICKING DISGUSTING, YOU GODDAM SCUMBAG. I’m live-blogging like a champ here and you’re projecting your sputum a yard away? Take it somewhere else, asshole! Jesus!

Anyway. I yanked my contacts out, staggered to bed, laid down, and checked to see that Iggy was still in. Seeing that he was I laid my head down on the pillow around 9:30 and was asleep in about ten seconds. Tired, sick, in body and mind. I closed my eyes and there were no dreams to plague me. Just quiet. Just sleep. Rest.

I woke up around midnight. Felt OK. Queasy. But OK. Disaster, averted. I logged on and Iggy was still going strong. Made it to Day 2. If I’m correct Dan Harrington said they key to tournament poker is survival. Iggy survived. The key to tournament poker reporting is survival as well. I survived today. Bloodied but unbowed. Back to work tomorrow at noon sharp. The last Day 1, and then we all have a day off. And then the fields start getting smaller and smaller. They start breaking the tables down in the Amazon Room. Folks start heading home. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, tomorrow isn’t the end, or the beginning of the end. But it’s the end of the beginning.

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2 Responses to “Binge. Purge.”

  1. Paul Says:

    Hiya Gene –

    Maybe she smiled at you because she reads poker blogs and stumbled upon (no pun intended for those in Web 2.0 speak) yours, knew that you have a thing for her, and smiled to keep encouraging you (not that there’s anything wrong with that – or that you need any encouragement)…


    Just to add some more intensity to your dreams…

  2. Drizztdj Says:

    If you have an Iggy pic, I’d love to see it.

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